God of Crime

Title: God of Crime

Author: Han Yeoul

Translator: Rainbow Turtle

Status: 165 Chapters (Complete)

Link: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/god-of-crime
(Please note the site is temporarily taking this novel offline, but it can likely still be read at web.archive.org)

Seo Tae-hyuk was framed for murder, convicted, spent the last ten years in prison, and is now about to die. He has no idea why, but he’s angry he never got a chance. Now that chance has come in the form of a demon. Tae-hyuk wakes up fifteen years in the past, with all the memories of his future life and an opportunity to actually become the God of Crime that people called him . . .

This was amazing. It’s mostly a crime drama, with a very tiny amount of magic that drives the entire plot. Because Tae-hyuk returns to his past self in possession of a mirror with demonic powers, a mirror that gives him the ability to acquire any and all criminal-related skills and apply them at superhuman levels.

Of course he never INTENDED to become the very thing he raged so hard against in prison.

It starts with accidentally learning a Robbery skill. From there his unintentional kleptomania expands into things like forgeries, disguises, violence, and so on. And the list. The list of criminals Seo Tae-hyuk met in prison (or heard about on the news while in prison) and the crimes they committed. He can stop them . . . but his methods decidely lean towards less legal methods.

It doesn’t take long for his moderate goals of getting his family out of debt and giving them a happy life snowball into something he might not be able to stop.

I love how it wraps up at the end. The revelations about why he had been framed, and what that murder was about fit in much better than I expected. I love how he keeps progressing into ever more ridiculous powers, but hesitates at the very last, as he finally sees in himself an emerging person he’s not sure he can live with. And then what he ultimately decides to do with his life and his abilities.

If there’s any weak point, it’s that his brother feels totally unnecessary to the plot. His sister’s ongoing development are a nice foil to the increasing darkness of Tae-hyuk’s life. And it’s fun how some of the more obvious twists are handled, like his sister falling in love with a detective who’s desperate to learn the real identity of the Phantom (who is of course Tae-hyuk).

Overall if you’ve got any interest in crime dramas crossed with a bit of fantasy, I would suggest giving this one a go. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

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I Reincarnated for Nothing

Title: I Reincarnated for Nothing

Translator: NaughtyOtter

Chapters: 128 (Ongoing)

Link: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/i-reincarnated-for-nothing
(Please note the site is temporarily taking this novel offline, but it can likely still be read at web.archive.org)

Artpe used to be the weakest of the four demon lords, the final bosses before the demon king. But after being killed by the hero’s party, he finds he’s somehow gone back in time. Now he’s a second hero, alongside the original hero . . . and he can finally get his revenge on the demon king who had formerly enslaved him.

This is a lot of fun. Artpe still has all his memories as a demon, as well as an innate ability that lets him analyze whatever he’s looking at to extract a high degree of information. He used to be the demon in charge of gathering intelligence due to that ability, so he has a lot of knowledge about how things used to go (although of course things are changing now that he’s veering off-script from the original events).

And he may be the hero, but his basic personality hasn’t changed. Which means people really question whether he’s actually a hero or if he’s somehow a demon.

The original hero, Maetel, is naive, good-hearted, crazy strong, and a moron when it comes to anything not related to physical combat. Artpe, on the other hand, is a genius with limited physical abilities. So Artpe decides he’ll specialize as a magician (since heroes can learn all class skills) and have Maetel focus on melee combat.

This is a litRPG, but the skills and stats angle is fairly light. Artpe does focus on leveling up as much as possible, but his interaction with various opponents usually comes down to cleverness and his innate skill rather than pure firepower. So far his interactions with demons have been limited, although that’s looking to change in the near future. Once he’s prepared enough to go back to the demon world, things should get very interesting. Because two Heroes means it’s highly likely there’s an additional Demon Lord to deal with . . . and if the one Artpe remembers was some kind of counterbalance to Maetel, the unknown one is likely to be a great deal more threatening as a counterbalance to HIM.

Overall even though I’m not fond of the “all the girls fall for Artpe” angle, I’m still enjoying the rest of the story. I rate this book Recommended.

The Lost Continent (Wings of Fire #11)

Title: The Lost Continent

Author: Tui T. Sutherland

Series: Wings of Fire #11

Blue is a SilkWing looking forward to a peaceful life. Under the rule of the Hivewing Queen, life in the Hive is predictable. Safe. But then his sister Luna has an unusual Metamorphosis Day, and suddenly everything Blue thought he knew is turned upside-down. Is it all right to break the rules? Won’t everything go better if he just tries to get along?

This was another excellent book in a strong series. It starts a new arc here, so new readers could jump right in, although the end also ties in with the teaser from the last book.

To most readers, the dystopian nature of Blue’s society is evident from the very beginning, although he’s under the mistaken assumption that everyone sees the world the same way he does. Blue is too nice, too agreeable, too obedient to recognize the slavery the SilkWings are suffering under the Hivewing rule. But that’s Blue’s problem—other SilkWings, like Luna, are more aware.

On the other hand, this is also what allows him to befriend Cricket, a Hivewing. Cricket is one of my favorite dragons in the series. She’s too intelligent for the role she was assigned in life, and her curiosity, boredom, and intellect have resulted in basically a mad scientist. She knows all about various chemicals and isn’t afraid to use them. And she has some rather unusual properties for a Hivewing, which make me suspect she’s either from a different line than the current Queen or has some non-Hivewing ancestor.

I like how the new dragon species are totally different from the ones we’ve met so far. The Hivewings are like wasps, the Silkwings are like moths/butterflies, and the Leafwings have plant-like characteristics.

Overall this was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Everyone Else is a Returnee

Title: Everyone Else is a Returnee

Author: Toika/Toy Car

Chapters: 348 + 4 extra (Complete)

Location: https://kobatochan.com/korean-novels/everyone-else-is-a-returnee/

Yu IlHan has always been left out because no one notices him. And when God moves all of humanity off to other worlds to prepare for the coming Cataclysm on Earth, Yu IlHan remains the sole person left behind. But the endless years of being alone transforms him into someone able to break all common sense when everyone else returns . . .

This is a hilarious twist on the usual formula. Instead of one person getting sent from Earth to another world, all of humanity is sent to other worlds, and the story follows the one poor guy who didn’t get the intergalactic tourism experience.

So Yu IlHan tries to teach himself what he’ll need to know when mana shows up and monsters start spawning on Earth. With the help of a sole angel who visits every few days to keep him from going insane, he learns combat techniques, blacksmithing, dissection, etc. My personal favorite is how he eventually ends up on a quest to read all the books in the world, because it gives him something new to do.

This is a litRPG, so levels, skills, and stats provide a framework for how the world works. Of course, Yu IlHan is so busy proving he can do the impossible from pretty much the get-go that it’s not like these numbers represent much other than how much experience he can get.

I’m not fond of the predictable way the story set up Heaven as basically just another group of high-level beings who banded together under one leader, which has the expected outcome. The author does make a point that he’s not specifically trying to dump on religion, just use some angel names, but just the structure telegraphs the ending from miles away. So I had more fun with the book before about the last quarter, because that’s when the innovation is strongest and the threats are still credible.

I also hated YuNa. She was funny when it was her aggressive pursuit bouncing off Yu IlHan’s stone heart. It was less funny when this turned into sexual assault. And the harem ending was depressing because the whole story has been about Yu IlHan sticking closer to Liera than anyone else, and suddenly he’s okay with multiple wives because he thinks he shouldn’t limit himself.

So it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. I love seeing the bizarre and completely overpowered things Yu IlHan creates. I love his pessimism, which prompts him to over-prepare for every possible scenario and then some. (Like how he designed his house to be usable in space. Because he was sure THAT was somehow a likely possibility.)

It’s the kind of mentality that results in this:

“Yes. It’s a great idiom meaning that I should not act until I am convinced that I can defeat the last boss, the true last boss that comes after that, the hidden dungeon that comes after the true last boss, and the hidden last boss that comes out at the end of the hidden dungeon, and the true-true last boss that can only be met when I install a super expensive downloadable content later, even after I have the strongest equipment and maxed out all my levels.”

So overall this is kind of a mixed bag. There is plenty to enjoy, but also some things that really annoy me. Still, it made me laugh a lot. I rate this book Recommended.

The Scroll of Kings (The Lost Books #1)

Title: The Scroll of Kings

Author: Sarah Prineas

Series: The Lost Books #1

Alex loves books, and is determined to be a librarian. No matter what his father wants. But something is killing librarians, and the books are restless. Soon Alex has more to worry about than keeping his job . . .

This was a lot of fun. Between books that have their own kind of life, curses that can call out the things inside a book and use them to attack, and a young man who may not have liked the sword but at least knows how to use it, the crazy events just keep piling up.

I was less fond of the queen’s side of the story, although Kenneret looks like she might become a more interesting character in the next book. Her struggle to be her own person was just less compelling to me, as most of what we see is her thinking to herself, and a few interactions with her uncle. Alex already knows what he wants, even if he’s not sure the exact shape of it, and he has more concrete struggles to realize his dreams.

And zoology books spawning ACTUAL LIONS is awesome.

But this book does set up a series, so with the initial setup out of the way, the fun should only continue to accelerate. I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Your Name (Movie)

Title: Your Name

Format: Movie

Taki lives in Tokyo, and Mitsuha lives in the country. They’ve never met, but one day they begin waking up in the other’s body. They want to find each other, but it’s difficult when their swaps are their only clue, and the memories fade like a dream . . .

This was an interesting movie. It’s kind of a romance, but the main characters have never actually met. They get to know each other through friends and family, setting, and living each other’s lives. Eventually they start leaving notes for each other to try to keep the other person aware of the important things going on, but they haven’t directly talked.

I liked the twist of why the comet is so central to the story, and what that means for the two of them. And what Taki, especially, tries to do about it.

I watched the movie in English. One surprising touch is that this meant the music RADWIMPS provided ended up playing with English lyrics as well. That helped during some of the dramatic scenes, where the lyrics were just as important as the sweeping melody. The voice actors were also good. I liked how Taki sounds more feminine when Mitsuha is in his body, giving him a vocal tic as well as the physical ones to indicate he’s not who he used to be.

Overall, even though I’m not sure why it got as popular as it did, this is still something I would watch again. The sci-fi angle on this unconventional romance is fun, and the movie is something that can be enjoyed by anime fans and non-fans alike. I rate this Recommended.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower (Movie)

Title: Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Format: Movie

Mary Smith is living with her great-aunt in the countryside, waiting for her parents, for school, for anything interesting to happen. When she finds a mysterious flower in the forest, she’s drawn into a world of magic greater than anything she could have imagined . . .

This is a cute movie. It is based on a British children’s book, which was noticeable to me. As I haven’t read the original, I don’t know if anything was changed in the adaptation.

The scenery is gorgeous. The backgrounds are all bursting with detail and color, from the English countryside house to the floating island that harbors the witches.

The characters are okay. Peter felt really passive in the later parts of the movie, especially when he’s getting led around without protest (and apparently not under a spell). Mary is the focus of the plot, and she’s better, although she’s still basically a blank slate. She’s a bored child who discovers a world of wonder but she doesn’t seem to have much personality beyond hating her hair.

The one thing that did stand out to me is that the cats do not really behave like cats. They come out from their little hiding hole during a loud storm to watch it, even though they’re clearly frightened, they track each other down, etc. I kept expecting the cat to reveal it was actually a former human, but that didn’t happen.

Also, I really hate “I’m never using magic again” endings like this. Mary seemed to be using her own power by the end, as the flower’s power should have run out by then. Just when she’s getting started, she decides to reject it entirely instead of looking for a better way.

The dub is very good. I watched the movie in English and all the performances were solid.

Overall this is a nice movie but not one I’m particularly wanting to rewatch. I rate this Recommended.